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 Rhapsody in Blue
Author: gregbaker112@gmail.com 
Date:   2018-08-19 04:52

When I slide my fingers off the clarinet to play the Rhapsody in Blue gliss, I get one or more of the following:

1. a faint "train whistle" type sound

2. nothing at all, despite air being blown in to the instrument, or

3. an awful high screech that sounds like something multiphonic or a higher partial.

What am I doing wrong? Thanks.


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 Re: Rhapsody in Blue
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2018-08-19 05:20

I have just heard two students who've taken lessons from another instructor who get really good results with the sliding fingers technique. I can't say that I've found that reliable myself. But I use mostly an embouchure/voicing approach. The only way I can describe it is: it feels like you are playing a lower note than you are fingering, or, your fingers lift "ahead" of the note. It does look like the "slidey finger" finger students use a little of that as well. You kinda do a "YAWWW" sort of maneuver with the lips and tongue.

Maybe someone has a better description.

..................Paul Aviles

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 Re: Rhapsody in Blue
Author: Ed 
Date:   2018-08-19 05:28

You can see a good example of Steve Girko using the voicing technique at about 1:00


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 Re: Rhapsody in Blue
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-08-24 10:45

There is a lot of embouchure adjustments and breathing to go with it. Your throat has to be unusually opened and then closed/back to a normal position, as you hit the high C. Dropping your jaw is also recommended. Constant air speed is also a must.

Practice by trying the right hand first then the left hand and when you get the feel of this playing style this way. The right hand comes off first and then the left hand, soon you will feel the 2 hands move gracefully together. Within a week you should have it down.

If you are really having issues start by moving one finger off the key at a time.

Some players can do this from the very low G trill all the way to high C, which is pretty exciting. I cannot as the break messes me up.

Also, use a softer reed. Very important to get that flexibility in your embouchure.

Designer of - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces and the La Vecchia mouthpieces

Yamaha Artist 2015

Post Edited (2018-08-24 10:51)

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 Re: Rhapsody in Blue
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-08-24 22:42

Paul Aviles wrote:

> You kinda do a
> "YAWWW" sort of maneuver with the lips and tongue.
I think this is central to the way a lot of players do this smear. If you pull the back of your tongue downward in an exaggerated way (aggressively "open throat"), you will produce a pitch drop and a very whiney, uncontrolled sound. Think of a fire or ambulance siren. The trick to the smear is to start it with your "throat" open (tongue down) and this out-of-tune, spread quality.

One way to develop it is to practice bending a high C(6), which is the top note of the actual gliss in the Rhapsody, by lowering the back of your tongue and slightly dropping your jaw (or think of an exaggerated "ooo" with your lips). You can bend the note downward as far as these maneuvers will take you (again, think of a siren), then work on trying to increase the pitch bend so that it is as wide as possible. It isn't unreasonable **with a responsive reed** to bend C6 down a fourth or maybe even a little more.

You do need a responsive reed (not a stuffy one that normally takes an effort to make sound) and a steady air stream. Blow aggressively and steadily without holding back or changing the stream at all during the slide.

**You can't drop your jaw or slacken your embouchure muscles to the point that you can't sustain any sound at all. If the reed stops vibrating, you've gone too far.**

If you can develop a controlled bend downward like this, your gliss should start (at whatever pitch you're comfortable with) with your mouth and tongue in the position you've developed for the lowest pitch of the bent C6. Then, when you slide your fingers off, the gliss is much more reliable. Many players who start the gliss on G5 end up controlling the whole slide with only the throat/tongue and embouchure. Once you get within the range of the pitch bend you developed, as you approach C6, you can really take your fingers off and bring the pitch up using only your tongue and embouchure to return to a normal playing condition.

One other thing to keep in mind as you practice. Once you can control the gliss, try to vary the speed - the length of time from bottom to top. I've played this for three different conductors and each one wanted the speed to be different. One wanted me to "take my time." Another wanted me not to take too long (to prevent it from sounding like a stunt instead of a musical effect). The third wanted it sort of in the middle.

If you start around D5, as many players do, you do have to be a little bit careful with your fingers. If your RH fingers start to come off before the LH fingers clear their holes, chances are the tone will stop. So, IMO, although the glide from one fingering to the next is mostly controlled by the tongue/throat and embouchure, fingers generally need to slide off either sequentially or one hand together, LH then RH, so that a higher tone hole isn't opened before the ones below it are.


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 Re: Rhapsody in Blue
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2018-08-26 02:32

Some very good detailed descriptions. I particularly like the idea of varying the speed of the gliss and often do that when playing Dixieland.
My approach is simple. The relaxing of the jaw an appropriate amount as described above. With the fingers---say you are glissing from all 6 holes covered to all open: You begin with lifting the bottom finger slightly, then the next one (RH middle finger) slightly as the first hole is now a bit more open. Then you begin gradually lifting all fingers off gradually, with the lower ones opening up the holes more than the upper (LH) ones. Glissing using keys (ie. going over the break, for one example, or glissing through the throat tones) is much more difficult, but can be done by very gradually pressing/releasing the key(s).

The Most Advanced Clarinet Book--Austin Macauley Publishers
tomheimer.ampbk.com/ Amazon, Sheet Music Plus
Boreal Ballad for unaccompanied clarinet--Sheet Music Plus

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